Action Meets Word: How Children Learn Verbs

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.27
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 96%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (19) from $3.27   
  • New (9) from $3.27   
  • Used (10) from $6.30   


Words are the building blocks of language. An understanding of how words are learned is thus central to any theory of language acquisition. Although there has been a surge in our understanding of children's vocabulary growth, theories of word learning focus primarily on object nouns. Word learning theories must explain not only the learning of object nouns, but also the learning of other, major classes of words - verbs and adjectives. Verbs form the hub of the sentence because they determine the sentence's argument structure. Researchers throughout the world recognize how our understanding of language acquisition can be at best partial if we cannot comprehend how verbs are learned. This volume enters the relatively uncharted waters of early verb learning, focusing on the universal, conceptual foundations for verb learning, and how these foundations intersect with the burgeoning language system.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This new compendium of articles is required reading for those interested in how infant language learning goes past the initial labeling of objects to understanding and expressing predicate-argument relations: the 'who does what to whom" of human discourse. The authors represent a cross-section of investigators with different research agendas and theoretical commitments. Each of them has contributed a quite original and broadly framed essay for the volume. I highly recommend it."—Lila Gleitman, University of Pennsylvania Institute for Research in Cognitive Science and Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science

"'At the critical juncture between words and grammar lies the frontier of word learning.' With this comment, the editors of this landmark volume set the stage for the varied and important chapters that follow. Not only a state of the art review of current understanding of verb learning, this book raises fundamental questions about word learning in general and, indeed, about the relation between language and thought."—Robert Siegler, Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

"A collection of the most recent and ground-breaking research in verb learning, this book at long last gives the verbs of language the attention they deserve. Action Meets Word is both timely and important, destined to endure as an important and sought after resource in the study of language acquisition."—Lois Bloom, Edward Lee Thorndike, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

"Verb learning remains one of the most enduring puzzles of language learning. This dazzling collection is jam-packed with the latest ideas, evidence, and debates on verb-learning in children, from leading researchers. The result is a must-read volume: lively, provocative, and deeply satisfying."—Susan A. Gelman, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

" impressive compilation of up-to-the-minute ideas, research, and theories from the leading thinkers in the field of verb acquisition research. It is an essential handbook for all researchers and postgraduate students, and should probably be dipped into by those taking undergraduate or A-level courses...Action Meets Work provides a text that address all the issues that are important in research today."—Psychology Teaching Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195170009
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/6/2006
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is Stanley and Deborah Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology and Director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University.

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff is H. Rodney Sharp Professor in the School of Education and Departments of Psychology and Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

I. Prerequisites to verb learning: Finding the verb
1. Finding the verbs: Distributional cues available to young learners , Toby Mintz
2. Finding verb forms within the continuous speech stream, Thierry Nazzi & Derek Houston
3. Discovering verbs through multiple-cue integration, Morten H. Christiansen & Padraic Monaghan

II. Prequisites to verb learning: Finding actions in events
4. Actions organize the infant's world, Jean Mandler
5. Conceptual foundations for verb learning: Celebrating the event, Rachel Pulverman, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta M. Golinkoff, Shannon Pruden, & Sara J. Salkind
6. Precursors to verb learning: Infants' understanding of motion events, Marianella Cassassola, Jui Bhagwat & Kim T. Ferguson
7. Preverbal spatial cognition and language-specific input: Categories of containment and support, Soonja Choi
8. The roots of verbs: Prelinguistic action knowledge, Jennifer Sootsman Buresh, Amanda Woodward, & Camille Brune
9. When is a grasp a grasp?, Jeffrey Loucks & Dare Baldwin
10. Word, intention, and action: A two-tiered model of action word learning, Diane Poulin-Dubois & James Forbes
11. Verbs, actions, and intentions, Douglas A. Behrend & Jason M. Scofield

III. When action meets word: Children learn their first verbs
12. Are nouns easier to learn than verbs? Three experimental studies, Jane B. Childers & Michael Tomasello
13. Verbs at the beginning: Parallels between comprehension and input, Letitia Naigles & Erika Hoff
14. A unified theory of word learning: Putting verb acquisition in context, Mandy Maguire, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek & Roberta Golinkoff
15. Who's the subject? Sentence structure and verb meaning, Cynthia Fisher & Hyun-joo Song

IV. How language influences verb learning: Cross-linguistic evidence
16. Verb-learning as a probe into children's grammars, Jeff Lidz
17. Revisiting the noun-verb debate: A crosslinguistic comparison of novel noun and verb learning in English-, Japanese- and Chinese-speaking children, Mutsumi Imai, Etsuko Haryo, Hiroyuki Okada, Li Lianjing, & Jun Shigematsu
18. But are they really verbs?: Chinese words for action, Twila Tardif
19. Influences of object knowledge on the acquisition of verbs in English and Japanese, Alan W. Kersten, Linda B. Smith, & Hanako Yoshida
20. East and west: A role for culture in the acquisition of nouns and verbs , Tracy Lavin & D. Geoffrey Hall, & Sandra R. Waxman
21. Why verbs are hard to learn , Dedre Gentner

V. What have we learned about verb learning?
22. Lila Gleitman

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)